Your air conditioner is still getting quite the workout this summer, but what if you notice something isn’t quite right? What if, for example, you think your air conditioner isn’t keeping you as comfortable as it should, only to go look at the unit and notice that ice has developed on the evaporator coil?
You might not immediately consider this a bad thing–some homeowners think that ice development is a natural part of the air conditioning process–after all an air conditioner chills the air right? Well, unfortunately seeing ice on your air conditioner is bad news. Keep reading as we explain why you should never see ice on your AC system and why you should call for professional repairs if you do.
Why It’s Bad News to See Ice On Your AC
As we mentioned above, sometimes people see ice building up and forming on their air conditioner’s coils and think that it’s not a problem. Perhaps they’ll even think it’s a sign that their system is just doing a really good job. But unfortunately, this misconception can lead to some problems.
The development of ice on your air conditioner’s coil is a sign of a serious issue. It could be caused by a couple potential things, which we’ll get into in a moment. The end result, however, is that it can and will damage your air conditioner if not repaired soon.
What Causes Ice Buildup?
There is more than just one underlying cause that can lead to ice forming on your air conditioner, specifically on the evaporator coil. Here are some of the potential problems:
A Clogged Up Air Filter
The air filter that comes standard with your air conditioner and heating system has a very important job, but it’s probably not what you think. Most people assume this air filter is in place to protect their indoor air quality. But it’s actual purpose is to protect the interior components of the HVAC system from dust, dirt, and other debris.
When this air filter gets too clogged up, it restricts the airflow going into the air conditioner. This means the air conditioner doesn’t have enough heat blowing over the evaporator coil for the refrigerant to absorb. As a result, the refrigerant gets too cold, causing the coil to freeze over.
A Dirty Evaporator Coil
Speaking of that coil, dirt can have a similar impact to a clogged air filter. What happens is that when the evaporator coil gets too grimy, the dirt forms an insulating barrier on the component. This means that again, the refigerant can’t absorb enough hot air to adequately warm up, and therefore the coil freezes over.
Not Enough Refrigerant
Your air conditioner is filled (charged) with enough refrigerant upon installation to ideally last its entire lifespan. If your system is losing refrigerant, it means there is a leak that needs to be repaired. It also means there won’t be enough refrigerant to absorb heat, again causing the evaporator coil to develop frost or ice.